He never wants the spotlight, hardly gets it, but thoroughly deserves it. His quiet personality is part of the reason why he has flown under the radar for the majority of his professional career. Now, it's time we officially recognize that Boston Celtics guard Derrick White deserves to be among the association's most talented in the mid-season classic.
It is difficult to believe that even Brad Stevens who made the trade for the University of Colorado product Derrick White saw him being seriously considered as an All-Star in the Eastern Conference. Well, look at where we are now. He's more than just a role player for the Celtics. White is an essential part to the success equation for Boston. Take him out, and trying to balance both sides of the equation just got that much more difficult.
In his second full campaign in Boston, he has produced quite a compelling argument as to why his name must be included in that very contest. Remember when ESPN didn't put him on its Top 100 list? Yeah, that's looking pretty comical at this point.
Less than a month before the fan vote for the All-Star Game closes, it feels like a good time to lay out why No. 9 in green and white should be competing at the Gainbridge Fieldhouse on February 18. With the starting role completely his after Marcus Smart was sent to the Home of the Blues, White has taken the chance by the scruff of the neck. There were some questions as to if he could take on the challenge. Those were squashed by the second game of the campaign when he blocked three shots, scored 28, and made five threes en route to a triumph over the Miami Heat.
He's amassed a career high in almost every statistical category, including three-point percentage, which sits at over 42 percent, the highest mark of any Celtic in the rotation as of the time of writing. We can look at the fact that he is outside Boston's top-three in points and rebounds. The sheer talent of the roster around him should not in any way effect the way people view his influence.
On Christmas Day, with the entire world watching, White had his fingerprints all over that victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. Not only was he a pest defensively, distributing passing lanes quite frequently, but his decision-making on the other end was near flawless. It's not always about scoring. It's about putting his teammates in positions to execute in the halfcourt. Just look at the 0:14 mark of this clip. He disrupts a pick and roll, starts the fast break, and finds Jaylen Brown for a wide-open transition three.
No. 9 possesses the highest plus/minus among all Boston Celtics so far this season. The only listed guard that owns a higher plus/minus in the Eastern Conference than White is Tyrese Maxey, who frankly is a lock to make it to Indiana. Maxey, Joel Embiid, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Nikola Jokic, and Boston's No. 9. That's the entire list of players with a net rating over 12 that average over 30 minutes per game. No guard who plays a part in 31 or more minutes per game in the entire league owns a better net rating than White.
265 points. No, that's not an incredibly high over/under for points scored for a game tonight. That's the amount the men in green are outscoring opponents when No. 9 is on the floor. Maxey, Jokic, and SGA are the only players that have a higher total.
Sure, his points don't match up with some of the players he would be in discussion with, but where can you find a guard under 6'5'' that can collect 2.5 stocks per outing. Essentially, No. 9 in green and white owns part of the "stocks exchange" in the NBA. Most likely, one of the larger majority stakes. Scoring 28 points per game is cool and all, but being outside the East's top-10 seeds isn't. Yes, we're taking to you Trae Young.
Beyond his career-high numbers, Derrick White's effect on the Boston Celtics should be more than enough to earn an All-Star nod
Let's look back. 2020-2021 for example. Quin Synder's Utah Jazz owned the best record in the Western Conference at the time of the March 7 All-Star Game. Mike Conley Jr, who finished the season averaging fewer points than White has right now slid into a reserve spot. Why? Because nobody within that Utah team put his stamp on winning quite like Conley Jr. The Arkansas native finished that campaign with the highest net rating and plus/minus on the West's No. 1 seed.
History has rewarded players for what White has done before. Remember Jeff Teague, and Kyle Korver in that 2014/15 Atlanta Hawks team? Both averaged under 16 points per game, but the two finished the season in the top-20 in individual plus/minus. Short story---we've seen players similar to what White has done get in. Joe Mazzulla knows what's up.
Even with all this, it still feels like a long shot. Qualifying for a game like this is much more about who the causal fan wants to see. He frankly has not earned enough "popularity points" to secure a spot at All-Star Weekend. White has quite the case though.
The fact that he is even in consideration should be a win in itself. His presence is invaluable to the Boston Celtics. Count up all the numbers you want on the Eastern Conference's top guards. Nobody makes a larger mark on winning basketball than the 29-year-old from Parker, Colorado.